Snowshoe Breed Synopsis
is a medium cat based on the Siamese of Victorian, 1890 times.
It is a well-balanced cat overall, firm and muscular with the
appearance of great power and agility, yet having the look of a
runner not a weight lifter. In color it is basically a pointed
cat overlaid with a very precise white spotting pattern
featuring four even white boots and a white "inverted
V" shaped nose marking. This white pattern symmetrically
marked against the darker blue or seal of the points and
brilliant blue eyes make this cat quite striking. Snowshoes are
active, intelligent, affectionate cats although sometimes
hesitant with strangers.
While the Snowshoe is a relatively new breed, there is evidence of its existence both in an old Victorian photograph of a purebred litter of Siamese in which the front kitten has four white feet and in an old Japanese silk-screen showing one peering around a corner at a spider. It undoubtedly shares an ancestry with both the Siamese and the Birman but now is unlike either in type.
HISTORY: The first attempt at establishing a breed of moderate, white -footed Siamese began back in the fifties under the name of Silver Laces. Its history was short lived and nothing was done until the 1960's when Dorothy Hinds-Daugherty, a Philadelphia Siamese breeder , decided to develop the idea of a moderate, white-footed Siamese-typed cat that she christened “Snowshoe. She promoted herprotégés at local shows and developed a rudimentary standard. With this standard in hand she approached CFF about registration which, after some convincing, they approved for Exhibition only.
Dorothy and her Kensing Cattery continued to work with the breed a few more years then faded out like those before her however, before leaving the fancy, she enlisted the aid of Vikki Olander, Furr-Lo Cattery in Norfolk, Va. It would be through Vikki that the struggling breed would become recognized for registration as Experimental in CFF and ACA. She also produced the first polished standard. That was the good news. The bad news was that by 1977 only four Snowshoes had been registered and another fade-out looked eminent.
Just when things looked dark for the breed, Jim Hoffman (Sujym Cattery) of Defiance, OH and Georgia Kuhnell of Cincinnati independently contacted CFF for information on the Snowshoe breed. They put them in touch with Vikki, by then the only breeder left and a tiny Snowshoe snowball started rolling. Standards were updated and registration rules were defined. More breeders were recruited. As a result, CFF was approached to upgrade the breed from Experimental to Provisional. By 1982 the breed was officially recognized for Championship status in CFF.
Shortly after this both CATS and CAT FANCY ran articles on the new breed and listed them for the first time in their Breed Directories. That introduced more breeders and in 1982 both TICA and ACFA were petitioned for recognition as Experimental. In the ensuing years more breeders were enlisted and the standard was honed and perfected into the one we have now. By 1989 with the newly revised standard in hand, ACFA was approached to advance the Snowshoe to Championship status. The application was approved and in May of 1990, Snowshoes were first shown to Championship honors. The first Snowshoe grand champion was titled in the fall of 1990 in Kansas. Grand Champion Birmack Lowansa Of Nishna owned by Maia Sornson was almost immediately followed by Grand Champion Snowdancer's Naughty Nikita Dancer owned by Betty Littrell of Moraga, CA. would later become ACFA's first InterAmerican Best Snowshoe.
By all counts the Snowshoe is a moderate cat in everything but its markings. The pattern is recessive so rigid requirements must be upheld to maintain and accentuate proper markings. It is not just a Siamese with white. 40 of 100 points are delegated to just pattern and color. The standard instructs that “Color and Pattern shall be of equal importance to Type and Build.”. Conditioning and Balance share the remaining 10 points.
The body type is a moderate oriental or foreign type and was modeled from the appearance of the old type or Victorian Siamese often called an apple head now. It should be longer than high but not extremely so, well muscled and athletic but more like a runner than a weightlifter. The head is a modified, slightly rounded equilateral triangle, as long as it is wide with high cheek bones and a nose of good length that is neither pointed nor broad. The forehead should be a flat plane rising slightly above the muzzle giving the appearance of two distinct planes. The eyes are the only extreme on the cat and they should be walnut shaped (larger and more rounded than the eye of the Siamese but not as round as the eye of a Persian) and as bright and clear a blue as possible.
In body color only seal and blue are allowed at this time in ACFA. Lighter colors can mask marking imperfections until the cat is well into breeding age so until the pattern can be fully established it was deemed best to limit dilutes to just blues.
The PERFECT pattern is just that, perfect and impossible to obtain without some flaw. By stringent breeding programs we have endeavored to keep the flaws as minimal as possible thereby giving the general appearance of a “perfect pattern”. This consists of a symmetrical white inverted V coming down between the eyes and over the muzzle, two white mittens in the front no higher than the dew claw and two white boots in the back. The standard allows for the white on the back feet to be as high as 1/4 inch above the hock ( about a finger-width above the point of the hock) but the most sought after markings are about a fingers-width below the hock joint itself. A pronounced, unbroken blaze on the face is also fully acceptable but not preferred. Symmetry of markings is preferred and good symmetry can counter balance lesser marking flaws such as low or high leg or face markings.
White markings on the chin, throat and stomach are allowable but because of the difficulty in seeing them in kittens, immature adults and bluepoints, are neither to be penalized or rewarded. Nose leather and paw pads may be pink , point colored or both with no penalty unless it goes into the hair. Point color (spotting) in the white pattern areas or white streaks (runners) from the white pattern into the point color are to be discouraged. The amount of penalty is determined by the amount of the flaw. If the spot or runner is tiny only a tiny amount should be taken off. If it is large enough to obscure the pattern it is grounds to withhold. A large spot or runner would be a large penalty.
The show Snowshoe is an extremely hard cat to breed. That basic pattern is recessive and several gene factors are involved to produce the desired result. Most crosses now are Snowshoe to Snowshoe but outcrossing to Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs is still allowable. The Standard also allows outcrossing to American Shorthairs but this was rarely done in the past and is generally never done now. Too many color problems result in this outcross. Most Siamese that are used to outcross are the old, heavy type rather than today's svelte show Siamese. The vast majority of Snowshoe lines developed from crossing old type Siamese with domestic shorthairs of the proper markings or from Snowshoe marked cats of unknown backgrounds. Some of this is still going on today and experimentation is still being done to see how to encourage the good traits while eliminating the bad (toe spots etc.). The preferred pattern does not breed true but with the intense effort breeders have put into creating it, it is becoming much more prevalent than anytime in the past. We still get about 25% solid kittens with no white and 25% kittens with way too much white but in the middle range that is left, the markings are improving vastly. The majority of these middle ground kittens only a few years ago were generally just mitted with no white on the face at all or just a very little. Large toe and nose spots were also very common. These older patterns are now becoming fairly rare as we keep coming closer and closer to the preferred markings. This is still a very young breed but with continued diligence in breeding and time, I have no doubt the Snowshoe can become as regular in its preferred pattern as the Clydesdale horse, Hereford cow or Boxer dog is in their breeds and species.